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When you get to the end of a pot of jam, what do you do with the empty jar? Do you forget about it and stick it in the recycling or do you re-use it? As a ‘jam jar’ account provider, thinkmoney’s Current Account can help customers to budget by splitting money into ‘Salaries’ and ‘Card’ jars. We’re looking at some of the best ways you can repurpose your old jam jars, starting with some great recipes.

Reusing your old jam jars by filling them with homemade condiments can be easy, and could also be a source of great money-saving gifts for Christmas. Making condiments can seem like a tricky science, but it doesn’t need to be. You can actually get started with just a few ingredients and cook some professional-looking jam, chutney, or pesto. Best of all, you’ll impress your friends and you might save some cash too.

Before you start cooking up a storm, you need to sterilize the jars so their contents will last longer. Heat the oven up to 140C/275F/Gas 1, then clean the jars well in warm soapy water to ensure you’ve got everything off them. Rinse them under a tap, and dry them off upside down in the oven – but don’t leave them too long in case the glass cracks.

Simple strawberry jam

Makes: Six 300ml jars

Cost per jar: £1.18

At less than £1.20 a jar, this jam is cheaper for you to make than buying some of the leading brands at the supermarket. And homemade jam can also double up as a penny-saving gift – just pretty up the jar with a square of fabric over the lid, tie a ribbon round, and add a handwritten tag. Fresh fruit can be expensive at supermarkets, so wait for a deal, or visit a discount retailer. Your jars of jam will save for about six months in the cupboard.


1kg strawberries, £6.25 (£2.50/400g)

750g granulated sugar, 58p (£3.85/5kg)

1 lemon, juiced, 25p (£0.25/lemon)


1. Take a sharp knife, cut directly around the strawberries’ leafy top, and cut any larger ones in half.

2. Add the strawberries and sugar into a large mixing bowl, stirring thoroughly to make sure the fruit is all covered. Leave overnight. This hardens up the strawberries so they won’t fall apart too much in your jam.

3. The next morning, the sugar should have turned pink and syrupy, as the strawberry juice will have been drawn out. Put two saucers into the freezer – you’ll need them for testing the jam later.

4. Heat a large saucepan over a medium-low hob, add the syrupy fruit mixture and lemon juice, and wait until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil for about 15 minutes, stirring every so often.

5. In the last five minutes, check the jam has set by getting one of the frozen saucers, spooning a little of the jam on to it, and leaving to cool for about a minute. Push it gently with your finger and the jam should wrinkle a little. If it doesn’t, keep boiling for a few extra minutes, and keep testing until it’s set.

6. Take the jam off the heat, and skim off the pink foam that has floated to the top. Leave to settle for about 15 minutes, pour into six 300ml jars and seal with lids.

Basic basil pesto

Makes: 250ml jar

Cost: £2.28

Making pesto can be pricey, as traditional recipes call for pine nuts. We’ve substituted this for walnuts to cut the cost, as well as using spinach in place of some of the basil. If you have a lot of basil left in your fridge or a plant growing in your garden, feel free to take the spinach out and replace it with all basil, as it’s more traditionally Italian. It’ll taste yummy either way, and makes a great meal tossed with some spaghetti. It doesn’t store for very long – a few weeks in the fridge if you cover with extra olive oil – so plan it into your meals to ensure nothing is wasted, or give it as a gift to friends.


50g walnuts, shelled and chopped, 46p (£3.00/350g)

25g basil, roughly torn, 50p (£1.00/plant)

25g spinach, roughly torn, 13p (£1.50/350g)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 2p (£0.65/4 bulbs)

1 lemon, juiced, 25p (£0.25/lemon)

Salt and pepper (from your store cupboards)

100ml extra virgin olive oil, 29p (£2.89/1l)

50g hard cheese, finely grated, 63p (£2.50/200g)


1. Toast the walnuts in a frying pan for a few minutes, until lightly coloured.

2. Add the nuts, spinach, and basil into a food processor, and pulse a few times. Tip in the garlic cloves, lemon juice and seasonings, and pulse a few more times.

3. Turn the food processor on, and slowly pour the olive oil in. This will stop the pesto separating. Stop when you have the right consistency – you don’t want it too smooth.

4. Stir in the grated cheese. If you’re freezing some of the pesto, leave the cheese out for now as it won’t freeze well. Just make sure you stir in before you eat it. Transfer into the jar, and store in the fridge.

Easy tomato chutney

Makes: Three 300ml jars

Cost per jar: 71p

It’s so simple to make this tasty chutney and doesn’t require you to be a whiz in the kitchen. What’s more, you can save a lot of money as it’s so much cheaper to make than buying it from the supermarket. It can also make a thoughtful gift – just put a jar in a box with a selection of crackers and cheese. It’ll keep for about a month in the fridge.


500g red onions, chopped, 38p (£0.75/kg)

1kg tinned chopped tomatoes, 78p (£0.31/400g)

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced, 4p (£0.65/4 bulbs)

2 red chilli, chopped, 29p (£0.44/50g)

150g brown sugar, 30p (£1.00/500g)

150ml red wine vinegar, 34p (£0.80/350ml)

½ tsp paprika, 1p (£0.90/90g)


1. Add all of your ingredients into a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and heat over a medium-low hob.

2. Bring to simmer for about 40 minutes to an hour until the mixture starts to look like jam.

3. Pour into jars, leave to cool, and store in the fridge.

Prices divided into recipe-specific amounts based on buying ingredients in weights or units as sold. All prices offered by Asda and correct at time of writing (17th October 2014).

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